Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Oscars :)

I tend to follow the Oscars quite closely for many reasons. For one, I love cinema. Having been an actor myself (theatre, though) I have a great appreciation for the work of people who strive to become a different person. I will comment on the 2006/2007 Oscars (with amazing performances like that of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada or Helen Mirren, the obvious favourite for The Queen). But due to the hype of today's Academy Awards ceremony, I was just transported this morning to what I think is one of the best movies of all years, and one of the most deserved Oscar wins for Best Actress in a Leading Role: Charlize Theron for Monster.

As indicated by Roger Ebert's review, Theron basically asks us to understand why Aileen Wuornos fell in the downward spiral that led her to become a serial killer. Charlize Theron won that Oscar hands down. She became Aileen Wuornos for that movie, and gained the respect of the Academy (and gazillions of fans). I haven't been able to see the movie again (it makes me terribly sad) but I think that just as Charlize Theron became Aileen Wuornos in that movie, Helen Mirren became Elizabeth II in The Queen. The only problem is... so did Meryl Streep (she became Miranda Priestly) and so did Kate Winslet and so did Judi Dench and the ever-amazing Kate Winslet... so this year, the Oscar is a tough prediction. I am not a fan of Penelope Cruz but I have been told that her performance is amazing. Good thing I speak Spanish :-)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Main Street video :)

Thanks to Beyond Robson, I came across this video of Main Street. Made by George Faulkner (or so does the website say!... I wouldn't believe they'd be lying). Since I live in the 'hood, I thought I'd plug this to my blog so that folks can see what my neighborhood looks like.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

dZihan & Kamien - Sliding

Those of you who like this type of house, electronica kind of music will love this video. Those of you who don't.. well, I'm sorry :) [actually, I am not]. dZihan and Kamien are extremely talented. This is my first experiment embedding YouTube videos after the transition from Beta Blogger to the new Google Blogger.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Restaurant review - Alexis Restaurant

I should've probably posted this two weeks ago, but I've been so insanely busy I haven't had a chance (plus I had to catch up with work - now on a regular schedule, 8am to 8pm). At any rate, two Sundays ago I was still feeling depressed, so my good friend H invited me out for dinner (in his own words, "because I had had a rough week", which was totally true). I got to pick up the restaurant, and I chose Alexis Restaurant. Now, with this very good friend of mine I really think twice about the restaurant choices I make, since I want him to get to know the good things Vancouver has. I think that I'm doing good so far.

Alexis is the best Greek restaurant in town hands down. I am sorry for those who love Stephos, Characters, etc. I love their food too. But Alexis just has that je ne sais quoi. It doesn't hurt that the food is amazing and quite inexpensive. You can't go wrong with their choices of full-meal deals. Their dolmathes are unbelievable, the chicken breast with rice and potatoes is amazing. I mean, I can't stop saying nice things about Alexis. The owners are the sweetest (thanks for all that ouzo, Theo!) and the waitresses are adorable (I particularly love Vicki).

H and I had a really great time, and it was a great evening before he headed off to Wikiland (no, not Wikipedia you dorks! Wikiland = New Zealand, the land where kiwis are from :)) ... I hope he's having a wonderful time there (and yeah, well, some degree of academic enjoyment).

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Movie Theatre Review - Rio on Broadway

Technically, this *should* be a post to review a movie, but I have been wanting to write about the renovations of the movie theatre Rio on Broadway that I can't really just leave it there. So I will skip my review of "Music and Lyrics" and go directly to the theatre itself.

The prices are almost unbeatable (only at times second to Empire Granville 7, but honestly, the great deal about Rio on Broadway is that not only the place has been renovated, the staff are corteous and sweet, the concession stand has everything you want, and furthermore ... the prices are inexpensive. $ 7.00 on a normal day, $ 5.00 on Tuesdays. I mean, how much better can it get? And it's on Broadway almost corner of Commercial Drive, so if you are really hungry for a bite to eat after the movie, there's the whole Drive to explore.

I had a wonderful time here, I have to say. I wanted to come when they screened "An Inconvenient Truth" but I couldn't make it. And of course, I promote local business in Vancouver :)

Restaurant review - Earls Robson

So for one of my closest friends' birthdays (K's), we settled (after walking around Yaletown for about an hour and a half) on Earls on Robson. The fact that each place we tried had "at least 45 minutes to an hour wait" (yes, the hostess can say it as sweetly as possible but I get just as pissed off) was just underwhelming. I am not impressed with the dining scene here in Vancouver. At any rate, we finally decided on the chain Earls.

I've had dinner at Earl's before, actually this same location (Earls Robson). Dinner was reasonably priced and the waiters and waitresses were pure eye candy and really sweet (I kid you not, I saw gorgeous women and beautiful men -- these people really were unbelievably hot!). I had Mediterranean linguini with chicken (inexpensive considering the prices in Vancouver, for $ 15.50) and a white bellini (the bartender was super sweet too).

We had a good time, overall. I probably would not go back to this place unless it was a special occasion. The reason? Well, this summer I cooked enough Rottini a la Puttanesca for four people for four days in a row on a budget of $ 16.00. That means that the profit margins in these restaurants are incredibly high. So if I am to go back to Earls, it has to be for their blackened chicken with roasted potatoes (amazing!) or something equally sophisticated.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

PoP! Goes My Heart - Music & Lyrics

The best and funniest movie I've seen in the past year. Definitely a Valentine's Day movie...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Restaurant review - DeDutch Pannekoek House.

Well, I finally set foot in DeDutch Pannekoek House. I went today for breakfast/brunch to the Oak and 16th Avenue location. Now, before doing my restaurant review, I should say that I am actually grateful, not so much for the restaurant, but for the friend who took me there (I was feeling quite depressed and thus it was very nice to go for brunch with her -- again, thank God for friends!!!).

Anyhow, I digress... We ordered standard brunch fare (scrambled eggs, sausage, toast) and I got garden salad as a side. Salad. Ok, that was VERY weird. But I was so hungry (and the dressing was so nice) that I ate it all. Then I went to my brunch items. You can't screw up scrambled eggs, really. The coffee was great, but as far as brunch goes, I was, quite frankly, unimpressed. Maybe it was the fact that I did not actually order pancakes (the house specialty) but the prices seemed steep for what we get. I would not go a second time unless absolutely pressed.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cleaning up (a.k.a. getting rid of garbage/baggage)

The last couple of days have been actually kind of depressing. One of my former students died in an accident. She was intelligent, full of life, she transformed herself and turned her life around, and in that process, she turned many other lives around. That's why I went on a shopping spree yesterday (thank God for my friends, I went to XCess Cargo, Winners, Future Shop, Best Buy with a couple of them)... Retail therapy, I tell you!

So I decided that I needed to follow a grieving process that acknowledged my former student as well. I started cleaning up my life and getting rid of many things. So I thoroughly cleaned my apartment today. Bathrooms, living room, kitchen, counter tops, dining table... everything. Threw garbage away, got rid of a number of things I really didn't need. I guess that's part of the process of getting rid of garbage (and baggage, in the process!)... in the end, I think this reflective and cleansing process will be good for me.
Charlie's Angels Full Throttle trailer

Honestly, I laughed so hard when I watched this movie I just had to post this!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Competitive volleyball

I used to be a varsity volleyball player and after knee injuries in undergrad, I completely abandoned the sport. I played here and there, particularly when I lived in residence. This year, I am playing again (at a level called intermediate-competitive, which is really good enough for me to get back into the groove. I have decided that in 2007, I will be playing again at the competitive level. It's good exercise, I have always loved volleyball, I bought new knee pads and I'm hitting quite hard, so why not?

:) I found this really cool picture of a volleyball player hitting [as a power hitter].

Monday, February 05, 2007

It's all about the equipment!

Ah, retail therapy... the best solution to winter blues...

I was raised with the firm conviction that you should never be cheap in buying whatever makes your life easier, even if it expensive. You should always strive to buy the best clothes, the most nutritious food, the nicest furniture (within your budget, quite obviously).

I happened to do exactly that this weekend (treat myself to whatever I needed). I needed a printer (I didn't have one before), so I bought an HP laser printer. I have been playing volleyball since a few weekends ago, so I bought a set of knee pads. My brother bought me a new pair of work boots (those that have the metal toe and all) to avoid me falling on the ice (something that happened about a month ago while Vancouver was still snowed).

Hence the title of my posting. It's all about the equipment. You can't be an academic these days without a printer, Internet access, a good computer, software... You can't be a competitive volleyball player if you are afraid to dig balls (and you most definitely need knee pads for that!). You can't walk in rainy Vancouver and expect not to trip at some point. So that's why I now have the gear to carry out my day-to-day activities. I am quite happy :)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Mourning the loss of a loved one

Eight years ago today (February 1st, 1999) I lost my second mother to lung cancer. My aunt, who had been the closest thing to a mother I ever knew, wasn't sick for long. Her demise was swift, a reward perhaps because she had been such a good individual. She did not suffer much, I believe.

Good natured, loving, nurturing and intelligent, my aunt always had a word to encourage me, she provided me with emotional, financial, even logistical support (I will never forget how she'd have all my dressy clothes ready to go out while I was in high school). I am who I am largely because of her.

She drove me to class, made me breakfast whenever I stayed at her place, and she was always with me and my brothers in good and bad times. I have never recovered from losing her, quite frankly. Since 1999, usually the last week of January and the first week of February are horrible for me. I have learned to cope with losing her, but I have never fully recovered.

Tia, thank you for making me who I am... wherever you are, I will always have you in my heart.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Gentrification again - damn it! Soma closes its doors...

I was taking a break from writing and checked Beyond Robson, which is a local, Vancouver-based blog. I read Beyond Robson mostly when I am not in Vancouver (e.g. when I was in Mexico I read it non-stop). I like to think of myself as a well-acquainted Vancouverite, so I go to their site every so often, only when I feel that I've been isolated from the outside world for way too long.

I almost choked when I read that Soma is closing its doors. For those of you who don't live in our neighborhood, Soma was a really cute cafe (very well known for their Mac users - I felt bad every time I worked there using my PC laptop!). Strategically located between Broadway and 10th Avenue, Soma was always one of the best spots to work (Waves on Main is the other one).

But according to BR's Krisztina, it will re-open where Wink was (151 East 8th Avenue). Cool. I can still walk from my place to Soma. Incredibly, I never set foot at Wink. Not because I didn't want to. I just didn't get around to it. And now, Wink is also kaput. But hopefully this trend will stop!

Restaurant review - Paul's Place Omelettery

My brother was in town this past weekend and we went for brunch. He was clearly appalled at the paucity of good brunch places around my neighborhood. Quite apparently, we had exhausted all the good haunts (Cafe Main, Slickitty Jim's, Crave on Main). And we both are sort of picky (ok. admittedly, very picky) when it comes to brunch. It has to be perfect. Since we both lived in Kitsilano in our early years living in Vancouver, we are pretty much very knowledgeable about where to eat there. However, since I now live in this side of town, I've tried to get to know my stomping grounds. And my brother (sweet as he is) has been kind enough to try some of these places with me.

Well, after an hour searching for a good spot for brunch (and nearing 1 pm on a Sunday!) we just gave up and traveled to Granville Street, heading to Paul's Place Omelettery (my friends and I simply call it Paul's). Now, I said "gave up" because we wanted to eat around Main St. We just didn't find a spot that didn't have a 30 minute wait! And we kind of didn't want to go back to our old neighborhood (South Granville as they call it now). But we were forced to...

We were not disappointed. Paul's is by and large the best omelettery in town, hands down. Crave on Main is a strong competitor. Both have amazing eggs. Gramercy Grill is perhaps third on the list (though I wasn't that impressed with their brunch items - but that restaurant will have to wait for another post). Prices for brunch items hover in the range of $9-11 . They make excellent coffee. I have eaten at Paul's at least six times that I can think off the top of my head in the past two years and the food has always been amazing.

Since one of my good friends just moved from the US to Vancouver, I try really hard to take him to new and awesome places for brunch. I will take him to Paul's for sure. Highly recommended!